While other places across the country are closing down again amidst rising case numbers, New York City only just entered phase 4 of reopening today. While phase 3 saw the return of businesses like nail salons, spas, and tanning salons (though if you’re going to visit a tanning salon right now, might I recommend just going outside?), as well as an expansion of the NYC Open Streets program, which allowed for businesses to expand their outdoor dining setups into the street. Initially, indoor dining was meant to reopen as part of phase 3, but Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio nixed that idea, citing fears of coronavirus spreading more rapidly with people eating indoors. Phase 4, which begins Monday, is set to include activities like “low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment” like zoos and botanical gardens, professional sports without spectators, and media production (including film/TV production). But now, amidst growing reports of overcrowded bars and late-night ragers, Governor Cuomo is threatening to reverse NYC’s reopening. File this one under: why we can’t have nice things.
We all had a good week or two making fun of Alabama for having coronavirus parties and sh*tting on Florida for being Florida, but it’s not just the Southern states we love to hate on who are behaving as if coronavirus is not a thing anymore. New Yorkers are doing it too, so wipe that smug smile off your face. In Astoria, Queens, hundreds of people were packed on Steinway street over the weekend, hanging out outside bars like it was a block party, with not a mask in sight.
Steinway will be closed by tomorrow 😩😩 pic.twitter.com/izogF8nAvc
— Easy Taught You (@ItsM_E_Z) July 18, 2020
In response, Cuomo invoked new regulations, including a “three strikes, you’re out” rule, closing any bars or restaurants that violate COVID restrictions three times. Some of the more especially heinous offenders could be closed after one violation. He also made it a requirement that anyone buying a drink at a bar or restaurant also purchase food.
Even with the new regulations in place, Dad is warning that he will, figuratively, turn this car around if we don’t all behave. Cuomo threatened to roll back reopening and possibly shut down bars and restaurants again if people don’t start complying with the rules.
On Sunday, Mayor de Blasio announced over Twitter that sheriffs would be patrolling Steinway St. to enforce closing times, issue summons, and make sure people follow distancing guidelines. One of the Astoria restaurants that was responsible for a lot of the partying has been shut down, according to de Blasio.
Dedicated sheriff patrols will be on Steinway until further notice. They’ll enforce closing times, issue summonses and work with the NYPD to keep the roadways clear.
We haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet. We can’t let up now. https://t.co/A7DOoq1RDj
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 19, 2020
At the end of June, Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood topped a list of 311 complaints by zip code for social distancing violations with 82 complaints made in a two-week period. Other offenders included the Upper East Side with 80 complaints and 2 Astoria zip codes, with a combined 127 complaints.
According to NBC 4 New York, just over 500 new coronavirus cases were reported in New York State on Sunday, and total hospitalizations fell to 716, the lowest number since March 18. But let’s not get cocky, because as we’ve seen in other states, we can easily backslide if we all decide to be lax about distancing, wearing masks, and limiting outings. As Governor Cuomo said on Monday, “We have to protect the progress we have made.”
Images: Accent / Shutterstock.com; NYCMayor, ItsM_E_Z / Twitter